By Christopher Thrall
From June 21-23, the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus will host the annual summer meeting of COPLAC, the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. More than 65 campus leaders and other participants, representing 21 member-institutions from across the United States, will focus on building “high-impact” global learning and undergraduate research opportunities in challenging economic times.
Founded in 1987, COPLAC has become a leading advocate for public liberal education. It seeks to “advance the aims of its member institutions and drive awareness of the value of high-quality, public liberal arts education in a student-centered, residential environment.” Its membership includes small campuses of several major universities – including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Virginia and North Carolina – as well as experimental colleges such as Evergreen State in Washington and New College in Florida. Augustana has been the sole Canadian member since its admission four years ago.
“COPLAC has become our peer group,” says Dean Roger Epp. “It has helped to anchor our identity as a liberal arts campus within the University of Alberta, affirm what we do and make us better. It will be a treat to host our southern colleagues, especially at the 53rd parallel on the longest days of the year.”
This is the first time that the Council has met outside the continental United States.
“Our Canadian context is different in some respects, but the COPLAC conversations about student experience, curriculum, and how we serve local and regional communities as public institutions are very familiar,” Epp says. “We look forward to participating in those conversations and learning from them.”
Incoming Augustana Dean, Allen Berger, will attend on behalf of his current institution, the University of Maine at Farmington.
At the 2011 meetings, professors and administrative staff from member campuses will share innovative approaches they have taken to fund and structure “study abroad/away” as well as undergraduate research and creative projects. Discussions will also focus on assessment of learning outcomes around such initiatives.
Later this summer, four Augustana science professors will participate in a COPLAC workshop at the University of North Carolina-Asheville as part of a major grant to develop expertise in supporting student research.
Please find more information in the COPLAC 2011 Annual Meeting Program. (Requires Adobe Reader.)